Local high school students develop international competition

Virginia

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — At a time when students are lacking creative outlets to express their skills and talent, Rashmi Francis and Rohan Bhansali, two high school seniors from the Academies of Loudoun, created a way for students all around the world to engage with each other through a competition called the Aria Challenge.

“We decided to create our own kind of competition to help maintain and engage students during this time while they’re all at home,” said Francis.

The idea arose when both Francis and Bhansali had planned to compete in competitions prior to the pandemic, but unfortunately, they were cancelled.

“People had a lot of free time on their hands but since everything was cancelled, there was not a whole lot to do, so we kind of took the initiative to provide that opportunity for students,” stated Bhansali.

They sought partnerships with major tech companies to back them with credibility and also arranged speakers from Ivy League universities to address the competitors. They both did not realize they would be able to partner with such credible organizations and people.

“We had no idea it would grow to this extent. We had a vision but after creating the website, after reaching out to all of the judges and getting speakers of such a high caliber, that really motivated us to keep going,” Francis expressed.

The Aria Challenge involves three fields, including, art, technology and entrepreneurship all geared toward four themes.

Example of an art submission.
Courtesy: ARIA Challenge

“No competition we had seen yet has been so diverse, including three different pathways for students to participate in, so we thought that was unique about our competition,” said Francis.

During the upcoming months, students who submit their work will be addressed by speakers in conferences, allowing them to network, especially beneficial for students heading to college soon.

“It’s just a good opportunity to learn something and also a really good opportunity to network and really meet some important people” Bhansali stated.

So far the Aria Challenge has 120 registries, with a goal to reach 1,000 by the end of the year. Submissions are due on December 31.

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